My time at the ROM and Gamercamp 2013 – Part 2 [Updated 11/19/2013]

UPDATE 11/19/2013 – For some bizarre reason, I linked “Samegame” in the description of Pyramid Party to the Wikipedia article “Banshee” instead of “Samegame”. That has been fixed. Also, I totally left out one Gamercamp Official selection: A Fishing Game with Actual Water. You can now read about it at the bottom of this post.

Last time, I talked about my experiences playtesting Rise & Fall at both the Royal Ontario Museum and Gamercamp. In this post, I’ll talk about some of the other games that were featured at the two events. Sorry for the lack of pictures; all the ones I took didn’t do these games justice.

First off, I’ll describe some of the other ROM Game Jam games. Unfortunately, I forgot to make note of the teams’ names that made the following games.

Pyramid Party

Sort of like a cross between Wario’s Woods and Samegame. (Note: you’ll be seeing me use these fusion-of-two-games comparisons a lot in this post.) One or two players each take control of a pharaoh who run and jump around a SameGame-like playfield to give commands to their workers to run, jump and move blocks around. When four or more blocks of the same color are joined together in any way, they become fixed brown blocks that fall and acculmulate at the bottom of the playfield, while the blocks below them bubble their way to the top of the stack(s). The goal of the game is for the player(s) must build as much of a specific structure (shown before the start of each level) on the playfield out of brown blocks before time runs out. Each level has it’s own specific structure and quota that must be met.

This game is quite addicting and also difficult if you don’t have some sort of strategy planned out.

Relic Ravage

A multiplayer competitive platformer for up to four players that’s divided into two stages. In the first stage, players play as warriors who must fight and defeat each other to score points. When a player is killed, they drop an artifact where they died. After a time limit, the first stage ends and the game builds a pyramid on top of all the dropped artifacts. In the second round, the players play as archaeologists/treasure hunters who must dig into the pyramid to collect artifacts and other treasures and bring them back to a pack mule for points, the artifacts dropped in the first round being worth the most. After a second time limit, whoever has the most points is the winner.

What really made this game special is the enthusiasm of the dev team behind this game when there were playing it with the patrons of Gamercamp.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Afterlife

A trivia game that’s pretty much exactly what it say on the tin. You play a recently-deceased character who has to navigate the underworld while answering trivia questions from Anubis and Set, the latter being fond of trick questions. When you answer a question correctly, the weight of your character’s heart decreases, and conversely, an incorrect answer make your heart heavier. At the end of the game, you meet Osiris and he weighs your heart against a feather (as per the myth). You win the game if your heart is lighter than the feather, otherwise, you get a bad ending.

Next up, here are some of the games from the Gamercamp official selection that really caught my attention. I have also provided links to the games’ and developers’ websites.

Toto Temple – Juicy Beast

A multiplayer competitive platformer (these seem very popular) made during TOJam 8. Players scramble to grab and hold on to a goat. The player with the goat continuously accumulates points for possessing it. The longer the player holds on to the goat, the more points it generates. The other players can (and should) use a dash attack to steal the goat. When the goat is stolen from one player to another, it lays a bunch of eggs that hatch into coins which provide a secondary source of points. The game ends when one player reaches 3000 points.

The game got pretty frantic when I played it with three other people, with the goat exchanging hands very frequently. I also learned quickly that grabbing as many coins as possible helps with maintaining your current rank even if you can’t hold on to the goat for very long. The game also has a very polished look and a colourful cartoony art style.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I had played another game, Knightmare Tower, by the same developers before. Small world.

STARWHAL: Just the Tip – Breakfall

A very neon and somewhat surreal multiplayer game where players take control of technicoloured narwhals and must stab the other players’ hearts with the tips of their tusks to defeat them. The last narwhal standing wins. When a narwhal’s tusk tip gets close to an opponent’s heart, the game goes into slow-motion, allowing the players to fine-tune their strikes/dodges, and allows both players and the audience to clearly see what lead to the successful strike or dodge.

The narwhals seem to be programmed to be difficult to control. Even though I had played this game before online and knew the controls, more often than not, my narwhal ungracefully flopped and flailed around the low-gravity arena as I tried to skewer my opponents. However, this is what makes the game interesting; it adds unpredictability, excitement and silliness to the gameplay, which led me to play it over and over again.

I’ve played this game before at the Bit Bazaar at Bento Miso back in May. I’ve even posted about itLovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is a two-player co-op game were both players operate a Death Star-esque spaceship to defeat enemies and rescue planets from invasions. The catch is the two players don’t control the ship directly, rather they control the two-member crew inside the ship. The control consoles for each of the ship’s systems (turrets, shield, thruster and laser) are spread throughout the ship, so the players must navigate through the ship’s corridors and ladders to switch between them. Some new things I experienced are powerups that boost the abilities of the ship’s systems and a boss battle. One last thing I want to mention is that this game has infected me with the “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” earworm.

Crypt of the Necrodancer Brace Yourself Games

A fusion of the music and the roguelike genres, Crypt of the Necrodancer is, well, a roguelike that is controlled by a dance pad and has the timing of its turns synced to the beat of the background music. I didn’t play it myself, as my experience with dance pads and roguelikes are rather limited; I only saw oither people play it. In any case, the game has a very polished pixelated art style and detailed animations. One of my team members kept commenting on how the enemies all danced as they moved around the dungeon. The music sounded pretty good, even though it was a bit hard to listen to carefully as a spectator.

Huskerball KPD Games

I would describe Huskerball as a cross between soccer and Mighty Milky Way. Up to four players each control a spaceship in a large arena. The spaceships adhere to and move along the curved walls and obstacles in the arena. The ships are also launch themselves away perpendicular from the surfaces of these objects. Each player also has a goal area, and in the middle of the arena there is a ball. Using Newton’s Third Law of Motion, players must push the ball into their own goals to score points. First to five points wins. Maybe it’s because I’ve played Mighty Milky Way, but I got used to the controls very quickly, though the four-player match I played and won was mostly due to dumb luck. 😛 

A parody of Cold War-era spy movies and old comedy movies, Jazzpunk is an open-world adventure game set in an alternate, postmodern, tongue-in-cheek Cold War world. I didn’t play the game for long, but from what I gathered I was send on a mission to infiltrate some building. However, I spent most of my time interacting with the environment and NPCs, reading the game’s humourous script. It seems that there are puzzles you need to solve to progress through the mission (I only solved one) and a few sidequests you can do as well. I would definitely want to continue playing the game once it comes out. Shut up and take my money!

A Fishing Game with Actual WaterFrancis “narF” Sheridan Paré

Another self-descriptive game for one or two players. At the bottom of the screen, each player will see three bowls in their colour; from the top of the screen, various fish fall downwards towards the bowls. The players must “activate” a bowl when a fish is on top of it in order to catch it and score points. Seems like a simple game, so what’s the catch? The answer: controllers that are made up of of three physical bowls of water. To activate a bowl, you must physical put your hand into the water, as if you were trying to catch the fish while it was inside of it. The goal of the game is to get as many points as you can.

The pace of the game is slow at first, but get much faster near the end, to the point where water get splashed everywhere. That’s probably why the developer covered the monitor with clear plastic and the developer himself wore a raincoat.

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